A Canadian team has never made the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. A Major League Soccer club has never won the competition. Both those trends have the chance to be broken in the coming weeks, starting tonight in Costa Rica at 10:00pm ET.
The Montreal Impact head to the Catedral with a solid 2-0 first-leg lead over Alajuelense, and all they need to do is score. One away goal would just about seal things up, leaving their Costa Rican opponents needing four goals to make it through.
Long-term injury absentees Cameron Porter and Justin Mapp are unavailable for Montreal, but otherwise the squad is fit for Frank Klopas. Neither team is in good league form, as Montreal has yet to win an MLS match this season after three tries, and Alajuelense fell to Cartagines 3-1 this past weekend, so things are wide open. Both sides are also well-rested, with Montreal off since the previous weekend and Alajuelense rotating their squad heavily in this weekend’s loss.
Montreal outperformed Alajuelense in the first leg in just about every category, but tonight’s home side is still dangerous. They had just one shot on target in the first leg, and it came from dangerous front man Jonathan McDonald, who is the second-leading scorer in the Costa Rican top flight this season. If they can get the 27-year-old more touches, he would prove a threat, but Montreal has played defense when it’s had to for the most part this season. They went up 2-0 in the first leg after 14 minutes and held the line the rest of the way, and more recently they locked down New England after falling a man down to draw 0-0, although giving up a 2-goal lead to Orlando surely blemishes that record.
There is another semifinal as well, with another Costa Rican team in action tomorrow, this one heavily favored. Herediano stunned Liga MX side Club America 3-0 in the first leg, and they will head to Mexico in the same boat as Montreal – score and you’re pretty much through. In addition to trailing by a wide margin, Club America will be without starting center-back Paolo Goltz after he was suspended six CCL matches for kicking an injured Herediano player as he lay on the ground.
The winners will advance to the two-legged finals which begin in two weeks’ time.